Horizon Zero Dawn™ Complete Edition
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Horizon Zero Dawn started as a Playstation 4 exclusive a few years back but makes the transition to PC in this complete edition, which includes The Frozen Wilds expansion. Apart from the technical issues affecting some players, it is a beautiful looking game with a stunning open world to explore. The combat against the many different robotic foes remains thrilling throughout and the game is also not lacking in terms of things to do and places to visit. It can become a little repetitive at times and some of the design elements are a little dated, but overall we had fun from start to finish with this game.

Gameplay: The game world is huge, but it’s fun to explore and more than enough to keep players busy.

Graphics: With the right hardware this game looks downright amazing at times.

Sound: Decent voice acting and a great soundtrack

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Horizon Zero Dawn™ Complete Edition

Developer: Guerrilla | Publisher: PlayStation Mobile, Inc. | Release Date: 2020 | Genre: Action / Adventure / RPG | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Horizon Zero Dawn is the story of Aloy, a young woman from the Nora tribe who has been an outcast since birth. This is due to the fact that the Nora is quite a superstitious lot and has a habit of shunning things that they don’t understand. Unlike the other Nora, Aloy is adventurous and inquisitive, which sees her landing up in the ancient ruins which are forbidden to enter by her tribe. It’s here that Aloy discovers an augmented reality device that allows her to see the world in a whole new light and sets her on a path to discover more about the mysterious past.

Horizon Zero Dawn is also the story of how humanity has been reduced to primitive tribes living in a surprisingly lush post-apocalyptic world. Were it not for the technology-filled ruins and robotic creatures roaming about the world could have been one of the ancient past and not the far-flung future. Aloy is desperate for answers about her mother, but her adoptive father refuses to speak of the matter, and being an outcast means none of the Nora are willing to interact with her either. However, she soon learns about The Proving, which is a competition that can earn even outcasts the right to rejoin the tribe. Unfortunately, Aloy ends up with far more questions than answers when she embarks on this path and her own problems pales in comparison to the real dangers out in the world.

Since Horizon Zero Dawn was initially a Playstation 4 exclusive and very well received on the console, it’s quite a surprise to see it make an appearance on PC. Although it took a few years before making the leap, it’s immediately obvious why HZD caused such a stir. The first thing we noticed about this game was the visuals, which even by the higher standards of PC enthusiasts, still look incredible. Although it’s still the same game that appeared on Playstation 4 and not a remaster or remake the visuals are stunning. The ability to bump up the resolution and increase the field of view allows players to really appreciate the amount of detail that has gone into the creation of the game. Sunlight filters through the trees in the early morning, the water glistens on Aloy’s skin as she hunts in the rain and the amount of lens flare caused by your robotic foes could blind even J. J. Abrams. It’s not always perfect, some NPCs still look a little plastic and clipping happens frequently with certain outfits or when fighting larger foes, but the overall look of the game is great. The way in which foliage reacts dynamically to Aloy moving around is a visual treat and the amount of detail packed into each robot is incredible. Luckily the game features a photo mode that allows you to pause the action, pan the camera around and soak in just how good it all looks.

Unfortunately, all this visual splendor comes at a cost and those with older systems might find themselves looking at a slideshow instead of a game. The PC version of HZD has also been plagued with some issues, although a few patches were released to address some issues and some more are no doubt on the horizon. We were fortunate enough to only encounter three crashes in our 55+ hour foray into the game and even on the highest settings, the frame rate remained pretty smooth. Unfortunately, others have not been as fortunate with many players frustrated by frequent crashes or stuttering frame rates even when their systems exceed the requirements. The developers appear to be making every effort to address these issues, but clearly, this is not a game that is guaranteed to run smoothly for everyone. At least not at this stage, which is a pity.

Moving beyond the visuals, HZD is a fairly typical open-world action title with RPG elements. Players can follow the main storyline, which features Aloy trying to track down information about her mother as well as attempting to learn more about an attack on her tribe. There’s also a ton of side quests that include the usual fetching, killing, and helping that players are accustomed to in these types of games. In addition, players can freely explore the varied environments and hunt down all the optional items and encounters that are spread across the map like fleas on a mangy dog. Aloy can barely walk five steps without stumbling across a bandit camp, infected zone, vantage point, relic, metal flower, tribal artifact, ancient vessel, cauldron, or ruin. There are actually so many of these that you’ll need to filter out some of them to even see the map underneath them. Speaking of the map, in tried and tested open-world tradition, you’ll need to scale something large to uncover more of it. Thankfully, instead of a tower, here you get to climb massive giraffe-like robots ambling about on pre-set paths. If you manage to get to the top of their radar domed heads more of your immediate surroundings are shown on the map. It’s very easy to get distracted by all of these things and they are obviously designed to pad out your playtime more, but we still had a lot of fun with them. The cauldrons in particular, which are like high-tech dungeons, are a blast and comes with the added bonus of teaching Aloy how to override certain robots upon completion.

When Aloy manages to sneak up on an enemy and override it, one of two things can happen. Either it temporarily becomes friendly and fights on your side, or Aloy can use it as a mount to travel around faster. Only some of the robots are suitable as mounts, which is a pity as stomping around on the back of a heavily armed T-Rex-like robot is something our inner Dino-Riders loving child would have loved. Aloy can also fast travel to the numerous campfires that serve as save spots in the gameworld, but only after discovering them first. Apart from all the robotic enemies, with designs that mimic everything from crocodiles and ostriches to bulls and jaguars, there are also some human foes in the form of bandits and cultists. They pale in comparison to the robots, though, and are easily dispatched despite being arrow sponges for some reason.

Despite the number of robots we have killed in the game these encounters always remained thrilling. However, just how thrilling they are will depend largely on the difficulty that you choose. Players who are just in it for the story can make combat trivial, but doing so would mean losing out on a lot of excitement. On the easier settings, it’s possible to go in arrows blazing and take down enemies, but on higher settings, you are going to need to work a little harder. Fortunately, Aloy has access to traps, trip-wires, elemental weapons and can even secure enemies with ropes to temporarily keep them off her back when dealing with more than one at a time. Increasing the field of view also means it’s harder to get blindsided by enemies like on console. Aloy starts with a simple spear and bow, but progressing through the game unlocks plenty of other weapons as well as new outfits. Even better, all of these can be modified thanks to the simple crafting system. Gaining experience and increasing in level also allows players to select new skills from a skill tree. Our favorite skill is the one that slows down time when Aloy jumps or slides while aiming her weapon. It does make combat a lot easier, especially when coupled with the much better aiming ability of a mouse compared to a controller, but it’s a lot of fun. Using it also gives you a nice view of all the parts breaking off your robotic enemies as you dismantle them bit by bit.

We played through the entire game using a keyboard and mouse combination because of how much better it is for aiming. Holding down tab in the heat of battle to quickly swap weapons or craft new ammo also felt fairly natural. It was only the dodge roll, which is pulled off by pressing CTRL while holding down a direction that felt a bit more cumbersome than when using a controller. Everything else, from running and sliding to jumping and swimming worked well. HZD also sounds great with plenty of ambient noises when running around and a stirring soundtrack that kicks in when the action picks up or something emotional is happening. We also really enjoyed the voice acting, with Ashly Burch doing a stellar job as Aloy and Lance Reddick lending his vocals to the deuteragonist, Sylens. There is, of course, the occasional wooden sounding NPC that crops up here and there, but overall the game sounds good.

There’s still plenty to rave about, but suffice to say that we really enjoyed our time with HZD. There’s some repetition involved like with all open-world games, but it did feel like we had the freedom to take on the type of challenges we felt like whenever we felt like doing them. The game offers some suggestions about what level your character should be to take on certain missions, but you are free to ignore these if you want a bigger challenge. The inclusion of the Frozen Wilds, which was an expansion on the Playstation version of the game, also adds an additional 10 to 15 hours of gameplay for thorough players. It doesn’t just feel tacked on either but has a full-fledged story that is compelling and snowy environments that are just as much fun to explore as the main game. HZD also has a “New Game Plus” mode for players who want to go back and wring some more fun out of the game.

It’s a pity that some players are experiencing technical issues with the game as it really is a joy to play. Of course, players who are already burned out on open-world games might find that HZD is just more of the same. However, for anyone who hasn’t been playing the genre to death, HZD offers a vibrant game world that is fun to explore and a story that will make you want to find out more about what happened. It’s not perfect, but the smaller issues are easy to overlook when you are running around having fun. We doubt that PC owners are going to be rushing out and buying a PS5 just to play the already announced sequel, but we know that many will definitely be hoping it arrives on PC too at some point.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bits
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K@3.3GHz or AMD FX 6300@3.5GHz
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 (3 GB) or AMD Radeon R9 290 (4GB)
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage: 100 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bits
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K@3.5GHz or Ryzen 5 1500X@3.5GHz
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB)
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage: 100 GB available space

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